Complaints Procedure

Our complaints procedures have been devised in the interests of fairness and of achieving a speedy resolution to complaints. If there is anything about them that is not clear, please do not hesitate to contact us by telephone at 01-6489130 or locall 1890 208 080 or email [email protected].  

Note: all complaints must be accompanied by a dated copy of any print article under complaint and/or a copy or screengrab or link to an online article if the complaint is about an online article.   

There is no charge for our services. 

What can I complain about?

You can make a complaint about any article published within the last three months that personally affects you and has been published by a member publication of the Press Council of Ireland if you think that it breaches the Press Council's Code of Practice.

You can also complain about the behaviour of a journalist if you feel that that behaviour involved a breach of the Code of Practice.

How long do I have to complain?

A complaint can be made about an article that has been published in the previous three months or journalistic behaviour that has taken place in the last three months.     Within that three-month period a complainant must indicate to the Office (a) which Principle or Principles of the Code of Practice they feel have been breached, and why and (b) how they are personally affected by the article.  They must also, within that period, submit their complaint in writing to the editor, giving the editor two weeks to respond. 

In the case of an article published online, the date of publication is the date upon which the article was first published online.

Who can make a complaint?

Any person or organisation that can show that, in the opinion of the Press Ombudsman, they are personally affected by the material that was published or the journalistic behaviour that took place.

What if more than one complaint is received about the same article? 

In cases where the Office receives more than one complaint about an article where the complaints are made under the same Principle of the Code of Practice and are very similar in nature, the Office may decide to establish a “lead” complainant.  If a lead complainant is established this complaint will be taken up with the editor and processed in accordance with our general complaints procedures.  Complainants who submit a formal complaint about the same article subsequent to the establishment of the lead complainant will be advised of the fact that a complaint is being processed and will be notified of the outcome at the conclusion of the complaints process. 

The Office may also decide to amalgamate complaints made about the same article, with the agreement of the parties concerned, if they are received in close proximity.

What publications are members of the Press Council of Ireland?

Member publications are listed here, and include:

·        All daily and Sunday newspapers, including Irish editions of UK newspapers (print and online)

·        The majority of local newspapers (print and online)

·        Many magazines (print and online)

·        Some online-only news publications

How long will it take for my complaint to be considered?

The time to process a complaint will vary.   Complaints are usually resolved through conciliation within about four to six weeks.  If the complaint is referred to the Press Ombudsman for a decision, it may take a further two weeks for him to make a decision.  If his decision is appealed, that will lengthen the process again.

Is the complaints process confidential?

Yes – the complaints process is confidential until all aspects of the process are completed.

What should I do first?

You are first required to complain in writing, by post or email, to the editor of the publication concerned. You should mark your complaint “Confidential – not for publication”.  You can contact our Office for contact details of any editor.

If, within two weeks from the date of your complaint to the editor, you do not receive a reply, or you are dissatisfied with the reply you receive, you can then complain in writing to our Office.  Please remember that your complaint must be submitted to our Office within three months of publication of the article under complaint, or of the journalistic behaviour taking place.

How do I make my complaint to the Office of the Press Ombudsman?

You must make your complaint in writing either by email ([email protected]),  by post (Office of the Press Ombudsman, 3 Westland Square, Pearse Street, Dublin D02 N567) or via our online complaint form, a link to which you will find here.

Your complaint must:

1.    Refer to an article published within the last three months by a member publication of the Press Council of Ireland (in the case of an          article published online, the date of publication is the date upon which the article was first published online) and/or refer to the                   behaviour of a journalist that took place within the last three months.

2.  Show that, in the opinion of the Press Ombudsman, you are personally affected by the article or  journalistic behaviour.

3.   In the opinion of the Press Ombudsman, be supported by sufficient evidence of a possible breach of the Code of Practice and is              neither vexatious nor insignificant.

4.   Indicate which Principle or Principles of the Code of Practice you feel may have been breached, and why.

5.   Be accompanied by a dated copy of any print article under complaint and/or a copy or screengrab or link to any online article under          complaint.  

6.   Be accompanied by a copy of  your exchange of communications with the editor.

There is no appeal against an administrative decision in relation to the requirements of the complaints procedures of the Office of the Press Ombudsman.

What if the subject matter of the complaint is the subject matter of court proceedings?

If the subject matter of the complaint is the subject matter of court proceedings in Ireland, consideration of your complaint will be postponed until the conclusion of the court proceedings, provided that the court proceedings conclude within two years and all information in relation to the complaint is submitted within the three month deadline.

What if I want to make a complaint where other people are named in the article?

If you are not named in the article but you have satisfied the Press Ombudsman that you are personally affected by it, and if the article names another individual or individuals who may, in the opinion of the Press Ombudsman, also be personally affected by the article, the Press Ombudsman may require the written permission of any such individual or individuals before he can consider your complaint.

How will my complaint be considered?

If, in the opionion of the Press Ombudsman, you can show that you are personally affected by an article or journalistic behaviour, and it presents sufficient evidence of a possible breach of the Press Council's Code of Practice, the first thing this Office will do will be to seek to have your complaint resolved speedily by a process of conciliation between you and the editor of the publication concerned.   

This may involve mediation between the parties, if both parties are agreeable.     

If your complaint cannot be resolved through conciliation or mediation, it will be referred to the Press Ombudsman for a decision. 

What happens if my complaint is referred to the Press Ombudsman?

The Press Ombudsman will make a substantive decision on your complaint after considering all of the material on file and making any further enquiries he believes to be necessary.   If you wish, the decision can be anonymised to comply with data protection legislation. Decisions involving children may also be anonymised.  The decision will be sent to you and to the publication concerned.

The Press Ombudsman’s decision may take one or more of the following forms:

1.     He can decide to uphold your complaint, either in full or in part.

2.    He can decide not to uphold your complaint, either in full or in part.

3.    He can decide that the publication offered to take or took sufficient remedial action which, in his opinion,  was sufficient to                         resolve your complaint.

4.    He can decide that there is insufficient evidence available to him to make a decision on your complaint.  

The procedures for the making of decisions by the Press Ombudsman do not provide for oral hearings.

All previous decisions of the Press Ombudsman are available here.

What happens if the Press Ombudsman upholds my Complaint?

If any part of your complaint is upheld, the publication concerned must publish the upheld decision in accordance with the provisions of the Press Council’s Publication Guidelines unless the decision has been appealed by either you or the editor.  Please see here for the Press Council’s appeals procedures.

Can I appeal a decision of the Press Ombudsman?

Yes - an appeal against a decision of the Press Ombudsman to the Press Council of Ireland can be made on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. The procedures followed in making the decision were not in accordance with the published procedures for submitting and considering complaints.
  2. That significant new information relevant to the original complaint is available that could not have been or was not made available to the Press Ombudsman before making his decision.
  3. That there has been an error in the Press Ombudsman’s application of the Principles of the Code of Practice.

 You can read about the appeals process here.

Can the Press Ombudsman decide not to make a decision on my complaint?

Yes - instead of making a decision on your complaint, the Press Ombudsman may exercise his discretion to refer the complaint directly to the Press Council of Ireland for decision.  If he decides to exercise his discretion in this manner he will advise you and the editor accordingly.  The Chairman of the Press Council may then activate a sub-committee of the Press Council to consider the complaint and make a decision.  Any such decision can be appealed to the full Council.